Archive for January, 2014

Gracie Curran and the High Falutin band review…January 10, 2014…

GRACIE CURRAN AND THE HIGH FALUTIN BAND

PROOF OF LOVE

VIZZABLE MUSIC

EVEN WITH THE RAIN–TAKE YOU WITH ME–JACK AND MARYJANE–ROCK AND A HARD PLACE–CAN’T GETTA–TOLD ME SO–BEEN ALL OVER–WEIGHT OF HER WORLD–WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE

2013 was a year-long wild ride for Gracie Curran And The High Falutin Band, indeed.  Their hometown of Boston, MA, voted them in at number 12 in that city’s Best Bands poll, and Alternate Root magazine had Gracie in their top 30 female vocalists.  Their debut album, “Proof Of Love,” was released in February, 2013, while they were competing in the IBC’s in Memphis, and the myriad of accolades has culminated in the band’s nomination for a Blues Music Award in the Best New Artist Debut category.

With a voice the caliber of Gracie’s, she’s bound to elicit comparisons to Etta James and Irma Thomas, and deservedly so.  Produced by Gracie and Richard Rosenblatt, these nine original cuts have a deeply-soulful groove that not only accommodates her outstanding vocal prowess, but the supporting cast as well.

She kicks off with some serious testifyin’, holding her head up thru the hardest of times, “Even With The Rain pourin’ down on me!”  That theme of a daily struggle just to keep your head above water is the story of “Can’t Getta,” with a highly-danceable groove.

We had several favorites, too.  Finding that one true love plays out in the soft, sexy ballad, “Take You With Me,” augmented by the Stax-like horn section. Gracie gets down and dirty with the story of lookin’ for love everywhere, “from Clarksdale to Tennessee,” entitled “Been All Over,” with a fiery solo from Tom Carroll and harp from Richard Rosenblatt.  And, sometimes no matter how hard you try, love still goes South.  when it does, Gracie finds it easy to give in to those universal painkillers, “Jack And MaryJane.’

The IBC’s have been the first step in successful careers in the blues for several artists, and Gracie Curran seems poised for a huge breakthrough.  Best of luck to Gracie and the High Falutin Band with “Proof Of Love” in the upcoming BMA’s!!  Until next time…  Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

Hard Garden review,,,January 8, 2014…

HARD GARDEN

BLUE YONDER

HARD GARDEN MUSIC   HGM  004

I FEEL EVIL–DEPOT BLUES–HEY NOW MARY–PAPA’S IN THE JUKE JOINT–I CAN TELL–THE VALLEY–DANGEROUS–POUR ME ANOTHER–MAXIMUM INSECURITY (HG REMIX)–SHOWTIME!–DANGEROUS (SCUDDER REMIX)

Hailing from Seattle, the trio that comprise Hard Garden—Son Jack, Jr. on guitar and vocals, Michael Wilde on harp and vocals, and Garrett Williams on bass, keys and drums-take the grunge-inspired rock of that city and mixes it with the deepest, darkest blues of the Delta and the straight-up funk of James Brown.  The result is their brilliant debut, “Blue Yonder,” with its ten originals and one cover.

For a debut, this one takes traditional blues in a decidedly-different direction thru the extensive use of the percussive skills of Garrett and the booming, Doomsday vocals of Son Jack, Jr. That’s the thing that hits you first, in the ominous opener, “I Feel Evil.”  A young man’s coming-of-age at the hands of an overly-aggressive woman is documented in the acoustic-themed, marching beat of “Hey Now Mary,” while “Showtime!” explores the opposite end of the band’s wide spectrum, as it rides over Son’s quirky raps and Michael’s harp, and a horn section so funky you’ll expect to hear somebody shoutin’out to Maceo!!

Michael Wilde takes the vocal spotlight on one of the strongest, yet darkest, cuts on the set.  “The Valley” traces the lives of a family beset by the abandonment of the child by the father, and the subsequent suicidal tendencies of the mother.  The ending is tragic, in keeping with the song’s underlying thread of “it’ll all be better when I’m gone.”

We had two favorites, too.  Son’s deft picking on Son House’s “Depot Blues” is augmented by echo-effect vocals, Michael’s country-blues harp, and the hellhound-on-my-tail percussive strikes from Garrett. And, the demise of the American Dream is perhaps the best reason that “Papa’s In The Juke Joint shakin’ it down,” with its Hill-country vibe.

Hard Garden has taken the old-school blues and given them a decidedly-urban remix by way of the sounds of Seattle.  “Blue Yonder” screams for an encore, hopefully in the near future!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

Halley Devestern Band review..January 3, 2014

HALLEY DEVESTERN BAND

FABBO! BOFFO! SMASHO!

MUSCLE MEMORY–KANGAROO MOMMA–MONEY AINT TIME–TORE UP (FROM THE FLOOR UP)–BOIL–AMERICAN PAIN–CODE 9–THE JESUS I KNOW

With a voice as big and brassy as New Yorker Halley Devestern’s, the comparisons to Janis Joplin and Etta James are inevitable.   (And, yes, she has performed with Big Brother and the Holding Company!)  We are going to take it just a bit further, tho.  On her latest album, entitled “Fabbo!  Boffo1  Smasho!,” she mixes the unadulterated sassy strut of Janelle Monae with the quirky, spit-in-your-eye swagger of Neko Case.  And, the eight band originals herein combine all her influences, including rock, soul, blues, and a hefty dose of funk.

It’s that shot of funk that kicks off the proceedings, entitled “Muscle Memory.”  It’s a not-so-subtle shot at an ex-lover that is driven by a punched-up horn section.  “Boil” plays out over a thumping bass line and is reminiscent of classic Curtis Mayfield, as racism and the Right are taken to task.

She doesn’t stop there, tho.  “American Pain” looks at the quick-money hope of Vegas, with its endless “cups of quarters and a St. Jude candle,” as the house rakes in the remnants of their broken dreams.  She closes the set with the gospel fervor of “The Jesus I Know,” who “lets the kids play on his lawn,” and practices “be and let be.”

We had two favorites, too.  Edd Kalehoff adds organ over Halley’s vocals as she takes on those who worship the almighty dollar, reminding us all that “time may be money, but Money Ain’t Time!!”  And, perhaps the most infectious, good-time groove is laid down in “Tore Up (From The Floor Up!), a tale of excesses encountered by traveling musicians, including the “Johnnie Walker flu,” and losing one’s underwear!

Halley Devestern is able to convey her emotions thru her voice and the contents of the outstanding material that comprises “Fabbo! Boffo! Smasho!,” and blues fans reap the bounteous benefits!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.